cover image Chrome Valley

Chrome Valley

Mahogany L. Browne. Liveright, $26.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-324-09227-8

Browne’s moving latest (after I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love) commemorates the struggles of Black women, drawing on episodes from her life and stories from family members. While these poems vividly relay the threat of violence (“the gun answers the door before/ anyone ever knocks”), they also crystallize moments of intimacy. In “Goodnight, Moon,” Browne captures the shared sense of hope and exhaustion of the lover waiting for her beloved to come home: “& the moon wishes someone would wait/ for her to return to the apartment/ & the moon is gracious & giving & who will hold her when she nods herself almost awake/ exhausted & dilapidated across town/ into a too small prewar apartment/ & the moon cannot remember when there was a warm palm to wipe away her tired.” Other poems highlight Browne’s concise lyricism, as in “Cutlass”: “there is a gun/ silver/ rusted/ cutlass 2 door sedan/ grey hoody: you./ there is a gun/ rust/ the color of forever/ your play-brother/ got a lead foot.” These are powerful poems of witness and reckoning. (Feb.)